Most Uber riders don't tip their drivers, study finds

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Research from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests tipping behavior among Uber riders may have more to do with the individual than the quality of the service offered.

For the study, researchers looked at 40 million UberX rides conducted during a four week period in the summer of 2017. What they found is that most people simply don’t tip – only 16 percent of drivers were tipped and just one percent of riders tipped on every trip.

A full 60 percent of riders never tipped at all, researchers discovered. What’s more, the frequency of tipping declined as people took more rides. In the first 15 trips, riders tipped nearly 25 percent of the time but by the 275th trip, that figure dropped to less than 10 percent.

Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that when a rider was matched with a driver for the second time, tipping increased by 27 percent. This suggests that a level of social connection can take place simply by interacting with someone more than once.

What sort of tipper are you? Do you always make a habit of tipping or do you base it on the quality of service / a percentage of your bill? Let us know in the comments section below.

Masthead credit: Taxi driver by Snapic_PhotoProduction

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Vulcanproject

TS Evangelist
The USA's tipping culture is one of the most hated things for foreigners. I have roots in and outside the states and I dislike it immensely. I do it when I feel I like someone and they give me genuine good service.

Otherwise what's the point if you tip everyone always? Include it on the bill as a service charge if you must. But don't pretend like it's not entitlement or harassment if you constantly expect generous tips.
 

TomSEA

TechSpot Chancellor
The USA's tipping culture is one of the most hated things for foreigners. I have roots in and outside the states and I dislike it immensely. I do it when I feel I like someone and they give me genuine good service.

Otherwise what's the point if you tip everyone always? Include it on the bill as a service charge if you must. But don't pretend like it's not entitlement or harassment if you constantly expect generous tips.
Agreed. When I travel overseas - especially to Europe and Asia - if you try to tip they act like you've insulted them. Then in the states, if you don't tip 20% they act like you've insulted them.
 
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p51d007

TS Evangelist
I tip when service is "above" what would be considered "normal".
If the server is pleasant, appears concerned about our needs, checks back on us during a
meal etc, then I will tip. Otherwise, what's the difference between dining in and carry out
other than you take it home instead of eating in.
Also, if people don't want to tip, then expect to pay more for meals because businesses
through the imperial federal government will be forced to pay at the minimum wage level.
Now, they pay below, and servers are "expected" to make up the difference in tips. I've heard
some want it to stay the way it is now because they make above minimum, in tips.
 

Knot Schure

TS Addict
The USA's tipping culture is one of the most hated things for foreigners. I have roots in and outside the states and I dislike it immensely. I do it when I feel I like someone and they give me genuine good service.

Otherwise what's the point if you tip everyone always? Include it on the bill as a service charge if you must. But don't pretend like it's not entitlement or harassment if you constantly expect generous tips.
I too have roots in the states. And yet I abhoor tipping also.

As for 20%, you have to be kidding me. If my lunch is 37.55, I drop two 20's and am done with it.

I have been on the receiving end of some colourful language - but I tell them - its not my job to pay your staff, it is only my job to pay the bill.

The Mrs once took a $200 cab ride from the West coast to an airport in the small hours. The driver wouldn't even agree to come without confirming that a tip would be received. I'm not even sure that is legal, but we were in a backwater coastal town, so we had no choice but to accept. She now never wants to visit the USA again, despite having a 10yr visa.
 
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Evernessince

地獄らしい人間動物園
The USA's tipping culture is one of the most hated things for foreigners. I have roots in and outside the states and I dislike it immensely. I do it when I feel I like someone and they give me genuine good service.

Otherwise what's the point if you tip everyone always? Include it on the bill as a service charge if you must. But don't pretend like it's not entitlement or harassment if you constantly expect generous tips.
As an American citizen, I can tell is one of the most annoying things to me and it perfectly symbolizes a few of the major problems in the service industry and in America as a whole.

The first thing you have to consider is that a majority of waiters get paid under $10 an hour. That's far less then the cost of living, especially if you factor in cost of living in cities. You are not giving them tips, you are giving them the other part of their wage they need to make ends meet. It's the classic American hidden fee, where things seem decently priced until you look at the bill. The same applies to many other industries like cable, cell phone service, and hospital bills. Big business in America loves hiding the real cost of products and services, especially as the Average American's buying power continues to decline.

The second thing you need to consider is that having workers get paid a good chunk in tips is largely beneficial to the business. It allows them to hide the true cost of their service and keeps waiters on a string. It's not necessarily a stress free environment to have a good portion of your pay rely on what random customers you are to serve that day. If you didn't make a ton in tips one day, that's only going to hurt yourself even though you don't have control over a lot of factors. By shunting that risk off to their employees, the business in effect reduces the risk it takes as it reaps the benefits of cheap labor. It also gives the employee the impression that poor performance is entirely on them, despite the fact that they don't control many variables.

I guess providing every service industry worker a livable wage would slightly cut into profits though and we can't have that. American exceptionalism dictates that it is never the company's fault, you just didn't work hard enough.

I too have roots in the states. And yet I abhoor tipping also.

As for 20%, you have to be kidding me. If my lunch is 37.55, I drop two 20's and am done with it.

I have been on the receiving end of some colourful language - but I tell them - its not my job to pay your staff, it is only my job to pay the bill.

The Mrs once took a $200 cab ride from the West coast to an airport in the small hours. The driver wouldn't even agree to come without confirming that a tip would be received. I'm not even sure that is legal, but we were in a backwater coastal town, so we had no choice but to accept. She now never wants to visit the USA again, despite having a 10yr visa.
Unfortunately the cost of paying service employees has been passed onto the customer in the US. Without those "tips", people in the service industry in the US don't even make enough money to live. Not nearly enough, even for just themselves. Minimum Wage is below $7.50 is some states while cost of living is pegged at $15 for one person. You can make multiple times that in tips.
 
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m3tavision

TS Evangelist
I tip my pizza delivery guy $4~$5 every time. I tip my waitress $3~$4 for breakfast everyday..

The only people who don't tip are children who don't appreciate how their food got to them. Otherwise, just have robots... or non-human eateries. Right?


It is insulting that people don't appreciate those who wait on them, etc. Why treat them like garbage? I think non-tippers should be shamed more... and called out. Buzzer at the door, so when they are leaving everyone knows they are a putz..

And MOST waiters don't make $10 as someone said, they make less than minimum, and rely on tips to break that.


 

m3tavision

TS Evangelist
I too have roots in the states. And yet I abhoor tipping also.

As for 20%, you have to be kidding me. If my lunch is 37.55, I drop two 20's and am done with it.

I have been on the receiving end of some colourful language - but I tell them - its not my job to pay your staff, it is only my job to pay the bill.

The Mrs once took a $200 cab ride from the West coast to an airport in the small hours. The driver wouldn't even agree to come without confirming that a tip would be received. I'm not even sure that is legal, but we were in a backwater coastal town, so we had no choice but to accept. She now never wants to visit the USA again, despite having a 10yr visa.

You are the reason people hate others. You spend $37 on dinner and can't leave at least $6 bucks..? Don't comer back jack... nobody wants YOUR business, when they could be waiting on people who do tip.
 
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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
The simple truth is tipping is a courtesy, a reward for "exceptional" service not just doing their jobs. In a competitive industry it's not enough to just have good food and good service .... that's the minimum accepted and if you fall short, you don't stay in business very long. The MAJOR problem is that must service businesses don't invest the time and money to TRAIN their key employee's. When's the last time you went to a restaurant where the waitress or waiter insured you had proper or enough utensils? Got the order right and checked it BEFORE bringing it to your table? Served from the left & cleared from the right? Checked back multiple times to keep drink glasses full and ask if you need anything else or if the meal was up to standard?

These kinds of service jobs are a LOT of work if done correctly and done so a tip is a simple acknowledgement of better than average service. The industry has tried to compensate by claiming the proper tip amount is over 15% rather than bring the level of service UP. Great Food & Great Service is what keeps the customers coming back, bragging about the place to their friends, all of which makes a place successful.

Uber drivers are not trained as professional cab drivers are (or were when I was driving a cab). There is no standard of quality, vehicle, or driving talent and I'm not even sure they require (and verify) the proper level of liability & medical insurance on the occupants. Most cities & states don't even require a chauffeur's license to operate.

Nope ... tips are not and should not be automatic. If the person doing the service is outstanding, they should be recognized and rewarded. That is what sets the standard for all to see and will raise their own level of performance.

It's called competition and is what drives success!
 

candle_86

TS Booster
The simple truth is tipping is a courtesy, a reward for "exceptional" service not just doing their jobs. In a competitive industry it's not enough to just have good food and good service .... that's the minimum accepted and if you fall short, you don't stay in business very long. The MAJOR problem is that must service businesses don't invest the time and money to TRAIN their key employee's. When's the last time you went to a restaurant where the waitress or waiter insured you had proper or enough utensils? Got the order right and checked it BEFORE bringing it to your table? Served from the left & cleared from the right? Checked back multiple times to keep drink glasses full and ask if you need anything else or if the meal was up to standard?

These kinds of service jobs are a LOT of work if done correctly and done so a tip is a simple acknowledgement of better than average service. The industry has tried to compensate by claiming the proper tip amount is over 15% rather than bring the level of service UP. Great Food & Great Service is what keeps the customers coming back, bragging about the place to their friends, all of which makes a place successful.

Uber drivers are not trained as professional cab drivers are (or were when I was driving a cab). There is no standard of quality, vehicle, or driving talent and I'm not even sure they require (and verify) the proper level of liability & medical insurance on the occupants. Most cities & states don't even require a chauffeur's license to operate.

Nope ... tips are not and should not be automatic. If the person doing the service is outstanding, they should be recognized and rewarded. That is what sets the standard for all to see and will raise their own level of performance.

It's called competition and is what drives success!
Well then might I suggest you stay out of Uber rides then and going out entirely, tipping is considered customary in American culture, if I go out I don't go without enough to at least leave a 10 for a tip. Drivers have also gotten smarter about it and a lot will rate a rider a 1 for no tip no matter other behavior.
 

Knot Schure

TS Addict
You are the reason people hate others. You spend $37 on dinner and can't leave at least $6 bucks..? Don't comer back jack... nobody wants YOUR business, when they could be waiting on people who do tip.
Of course they want MY business. I can afford to spend $40 on lunch (and sometimes much more).

However, it is not the law, and nor is it my job to pay YOUR staff.

But I've no issue with paying 'service charges', when they are clearly labelled on the menu, as I am aware of what is expected right from the beginning.

Also, whilst at Uni, I wasn't fortunate enough to have a job that society deemed 'tip worthy'. So cry me a river.

When more people stop tipping, market forces will then work nicely, and employers forced to actually pay their staff, or lose staff to other occupations.

That is called logic, that'll help you.
 
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scavengerspc

TS Booster
I too have roots in the states. And yet I abhoor tipping also.

As for 20%, you have to be kidding me. If my lunch is 37.55, I drop two 20's and am done with it.

I have been on the receiving end of some colourful language - but I tell them - its not my job to pay your staff, it is only my job to pay the bill.

The Mrs once took a $200 cab ride from the West coast to an airport in the small hours. The driver wouldn't even agree to come without confirming that a tip would be received. I'm not even sure that is legal, but we were in a backwater coastal town, so we had no choice but to accept. She now never wants to visit the USA again, despite having a 10yr visa.
If that one instance is why she has totally written off coming back here then I would say we are the ones that come out ahead.
 

Knot Schure

TS Addict
If that one instance is why she has totally written off coming back here then I would say we are the ones that come out ahead.
So you don't like people who don't tip then. Maybe its you delivering the pizzas then, so I shan't worry too much about this reponse.
 

Tuxie

TS Rookie
I always refuse to tip, everywhere in the world. If you think that I should pay more money for your food or services or whatever, put it on the frickin bill and let me know the total upfront. Yes, it's that simple.
 
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3ogdy

TS Rookie
RULE 1: Do NOT tip.
Drivers are there to do their job, for which they're paid.
My boss doesn't tip me for being quicker doing my job. My boss doesn't tip me for showing up on time. I simply don't get tips at all and I only get paid for the work that I do. A salary is my month's worth of work. Not sure why I'd want to work harder every month just so others can live better, but not me?
 
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scavengerspc

TS Booster
So you don't like people who don't tip then. Maybe its you delivering the pizzas then, so I shan't worry too much about this reponse.
I dont deliver pizza's, I create then deliver multi million dollar construction plans\contracts.
My wife put herself through college as a bartender.
My daughter worked as a waitress between college and her first job. So no, people who convince themselves not to tip are cheap bastards and I dont really care for them
 
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candle_86

TS Booster
RULE 1: Do NOT tip.
Drivers are there to do their job, for which they're paid.
My boss doesn't tip me for being quicker doing my job. My boss doesn't tip me for showing up on time. I simply don't get tips at all and I only get paid for the work that I do. A salary is my month's worth of work. Not sure why I'd want to work harder every month just so others can live better, but not me?
Well then stay off Uber, the drivers don't want you and eat at home because the servers don't want you, deadbeats should avoid going out
 
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